If you’re not in Philippines or don’t have much Filipino friends, chances are that you didn’t hear about Super Sireyna yet! Otherwise, you must have seen photos and status updates about it on your Facebook newsfeed already.
Super Sireyna (Eat Bulaga!’s Super Sireyna) is a TV show that’s airing on GMA Network, a major TV channel here in Philippines, that’s showcasing the beauty and talent of Filipino ladyboys through a daily contest. That’s not a new show though, it was first airing in the 1980s as called “Miss gay Philippines”, then renamed Super Sireyna in the mid-90s.
The show airs at lunch break time (around 12 noon in Philippines time) every weekday, where 3 candidates compete for the crown. At the end of the week, on saturday, the 5 winners of the weekday shows compete for the weekly crown, and then the weekly winners will compete into the grand finale.
Showcasing the beauty and talent of ladyboys
The candidates have to demonstrate their beauty and talents in two tests: a talent test (such as singing, dancing or acting…) and the Questions & Answers test. If you’re beautiful but can’t answer the questions, well bad luck for you, you’re out!
Beauty pageants in Philippines is an institution. It’s very popular and there are beauty pageants in the every least barangay (= the smallest administrative division in Philippines, kind of a neighbourhood). And not only for transgenders, beauty pageants are as popular for genetic females, probably beauty pageants for genetic females were there first anyways.
I attended a couple of beauty pageants for transgenders (sometimes called gay pageants but I don’t like that name), even the smallest pageant with a tiny budget is always entertaining, but the big pageants are really spectacular, light and sound effects are to the top (I believe Queen of Cebu is one of the best), the candidates are all beautiful and talented, and big personalities are amongst the judges (Kevin Balot, the winner of Miss International Queen 2012 is one of the judges of Super Sireyna).
Have you ever noticed the number of beauty queens (or at least beauty queen contestants) amongst the profiles of a ladyboy dating site? That’s not a scam, beauty pageants are an institution in Philippines (and it’s probably as much in Thailand) so you can believe your eyes when it seems that almost all ladyboy are beauty queens.
Are ladyboys only for entertainment?
I don’t know what’s the stand of everybody on this. I like the show Super Sireyna, it’s actually showing that transgenders are beautiful, talented and skilled. The candidates are all educated (you can hear IT graduate, professional nurse, digital marketing specialist, HR, make up artist…), they can speak in public, they’re fun and have a fresh mind. It’s entertaining, because it’s TV.
I don’t know if trans advocates actually like that show (I don’t consider myself a trans advocate, and much trans advocates condemn me for employing the shocking word “ladyboy”, not realising how much I reach people and actually educate people thanks to that, that’s efficient communication baby). Because once again, we show transgenders as entertainers… And they’re very good entertainers actually If I have to choose between a night out with transgender friends or cisgender friends, gosh, I always go for the transgender night, it’s always more fun. Of course I know they’re more than this, because I live in Philippines and I spend my days and nights with transgenders (or at least one, my girlfriend) but for an outside observer, is that the same conclusion?
But well, balancing the good and the bad, I still vote thumbs up for Super Sireyna. TV is for entertainment, and who would watch something serious and boring about transgenders? That’s a way to reach people and get them to hear the message. As much as calling my sites “my LADYBOY girlfriend” or “my LADYBOY date” is a way to get your to hear my message as well.
I’m hoping for that kind of shows to spread out of Asia, why not in France someday? That day we will be able to say that awareness and acceptance have been spread far…
You can watch the previous episodes on the official website of Super Sireyna if you like (as well as episodes of the 2010 season and 2007 season). Some of it is in English, some in Tagalog, some in Cebuano (that’s how it works in Philippines, they mix languages, in the same discussion or even in the same sentence) so you’ll probably get to understand some of it, and if not, you can still admire the beauty of the contestants.